In a wide-ranging conversation on Delhi’s education reforms among a panel of distinguished scholars from King’s College, London, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “Education has been the most powerful tool for us to bring change. We have consistently upheld that education is the top-most priority for the progress of our nation. We have attributed 26% of our budget in education to fixing poor school infrastructure and building the capacity of our teachers. We established state-of-the-art schools with all kinds of facilities and built the capacity of our teachers by sending them to Singapore, Cambridge, Harvard and Finland. While our children have begun attaining excellent pass percentages in Board exams, our journey to provide quality education has not stopped there.”

Speaking about bringing quality education and curricular changes spearheaded by the Delhi Government, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “The biggest challenge of our nation is to ensure quality education, and at present, the benchmark of quality education is rote-learning, which we need to eliminate. If we talk about the current situation in India, the basic premise of education is to equip students for jobs in the market, but most of the time, the employer is not happy with the outcome. There’s a gap between what a student learns and the talent needed for innovation. We need to start imploring our children to have a more entrepreneurial mindset and attain 21st century skills. One of our key solutions to bridge this gap has been to pioneer Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum (EMC) in classes. Through such a curriculum, students will be encouraged to engage in futuristic and innovative thinking, so they can ultimately become job providers and contribute to the growth of our economy. We also developed the Happiness Curriculum to encourage socio-emotional awareness of self, community and nation. Through daily interventions of EMC and Happiness Curriculum, we want to bring a holistic change in the thinking of the student and by effect, the community.”

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia reaffirmed that “In our pursuit of quality education, we have been relentlessly propelling towards refining assessments in schools for our students. This is the reason we will now have a Delhi Education Board, so that holistic assessments, which harness the skills and talents of students, can be disseminated across schools for developing a holistic learner profile. Further, our eyes are also fixed on ensuring that students receive skill education and therefore attain meaningful employment opportunities. For this, we are also establishing the Delhi Skill and Entrepreneurship University.”

Addressing the unique Deshbhakti Curriculum set to be piloted in classes, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “In the context that we live in now, I think education is the most powerful tool to inspire progress. With the Deshbhakti Curriculum, we want to instil the spirit of patriotism and nationhood within every child studying in Delhi government schools. We want to imbibe the idea that Deshbhakti means equality. By teaching one period on Deshbhakti daily, we want every student to feel love, honour and affection for the nation and its people, regardless of class, caste and gender. You can say that education means to learn about the law, business, arts, defence but most importantly, education is non-violence, it is about sustaining peace. And this is what we aim to do with our Deshbhakti Curriculum”

While on the subject of ‘future of work’, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia articulated that “In the 21st Century, with the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the future of work will be associated with AI, machine learning and the digital revolution. We need to recognise and accept that in the next few years, students and institutions will not be competing with each other, but with robots. I believe that the abilities of human beings are expansive. We have the ability to imagine, feel, and judge changing situations, which helps us to shift from short-term to long-term concerns. And this is what we need to do. We need to use our abilities to build futuristic ideas and skills that would not replace us, but help us work with technology. Our education needs to build students in a way that we remain indispensable to the growth of the society.”

Further, with reference to digital education, the Delhi Government is also aiming to establish Delhi’s first Virtual Model School. With reference to this, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “The idea of a Virtual Model School in Delhi is ‘anywhere living, anytime learning, anytime testing’. The Virtual Model School will provide a distinctive way of learning and carry the hallmarks of any regular government school in the city, namely, students, teachers, regular teaching and learning activities, assessments, and most importantly, provision of a holistic education. It would mean connecting with real life teachers, using the community as an activity hub where students will go to centres or labs around their communities, where peer activities will be assigned giving deliberate opportunities for socialization.”

The Delhi Government has been on the path to quality and radical changes in education. Following suit of the National Education Policy, Delhi has been at the forefront of spearheading changes in schooling, teaching-learning and community engagement for education. Commenting on the NEP 2020, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “The lacuna in the NEP is that it doesn’t provide an implementation pathway. There is no roadmap of timelines and resources. Without such imminent elements, the NEP is generally rendered as a wishful draft. While we have understood the document, now we need to develop actionable items for its implementation”

King’s College: The India Series is a distinguished panel discussion organized by the King’s College, London, which brings together global leaders from various countries to speak on paramount topics of education, development and change.